After watching the Netflix film Always Be My Maybe, I decided to combine all of my favorite ingredients (and memories) to create an "always be my kimchi jjigae" recipe. Kimchi jjigae is arguably the most common stew in Korea—full of kimchi, pork, and vegetables—and is a stalwart of Korean home cooking. The use of anchovy fillets in my recipe creates a deeply flavored broth without the need for anchovy stock, and both Spam and bacon add essential pork flavor to the dish.
Want to hear more about Korean-American food? On our new podcast Counterjam—a show that explores culture through food and music—host Peter J. Kim talks instant ramyeun hacks, kimchi-jjigae, cheonggukjang, and more with chef Roy Choi and comedian Margaret Cho—check out the episode here. —James Park
scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces (white and green parts divided)
slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
gochugaru (Korean red pepper powder)
white wine vinegar
starchy water (see Step 4 in the Directions below)
Korean soup soy sauce
extra-firm tofu, sliced
White rice, for serving
Add the olive oil from the canned anchovies to a medium, heavy-bottomed pot. Chop the anchovies and set them aside for later.
Over medium heat, add the chopped garlic and the white parts from the scallions. Sauté until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add chopped anchovies and onions to the pot and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Add bacon and cook for another 3 minutes until the bacon fat renders out. Add kimchi, gochugaru, and white wine vinegar and cook for another 5 minutes until the kimchi starts to look translucent. Stir every minute or so.
Add the starchy water and bring to a boil. (You can use plain water, but I highly recommend using the starchy water that you get after washing rice.) Add sliced spam and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
Season with Korean soup soy sauce and sugar. If you don't have a Korean soup soy sauce, add salt, and adjust the seasoning to your preference. Don't use a regular soy sauce.
Add tofu and simmer for 5 to 8 more minutes. Garnish with the remaining green parts from the scallions. Serve with rice.